10.6 Recognition and validation of skills acquired through youth work
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The Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 defines youth work (including hobby education for young people) to have an important role in the development of young people with providing versatile knowledge, skills and attitudes. Hence, the recognition of competences gained through diverse variety of youth work activities available to young people in Estonia, is of utmost important.
In earlier years, young people have been able to assess and document their experiences with the support of a specific tool on the national portal of youth information called Teeviit. It included the possibility to add the learning experience (formal education, student/pupil exchanges, trainings, seminars and conferences, voluntary activities, youth camps, youth exchanges, and hobby activities) and working experience (jobs, practice, working camps, belonging to organizations, tutoring) and analyze the outcomes by yourself. As a result of the process, it was possible to combine it into a CV and forward it to potential employers by e-mail.
Alternatively to that, there have been some other initiatives offering the possibility to reflect the voluntary experiences and the obtained competences. For example, Tankla volunteer pass (Tankla vabatahtliku pass) on regional level in Estonia and YouthPass enabling to issue a certificate of participation in youth work activities of the European youth programmes.
In recent years, more emphasis is targeted at better integration of non-formal and formal education. For example, a national portal NOPIK for dissemination of good practices has been set up. Better integration of different learning paths is also one of the priorities in the Education Sector Development Plan 2021-2035. Depending on a school and teachers, also co-operation practices developed at local level, there are practices where competences gained in youth work are recognized in formal education. For example, if a young person participates regularly in some kind of sports hobby activity, s/he will be able to have this accepted as alternative to physical education lessons in school. NOPIK also features some initiatives that have been developed in close co-operation between general education institution and youth work organisation in order to enrich the subjects in formal curricula with more diverse and flexible ways of learning in youth work, f.ex realising self-initiated projects in local hobby school as part of the curricula.
At the national level, there is the recognition system of prior learning and working experience (VÕTA), which helps in validating the prior experiences for formal education, no matter how well you studied. VÕTA can also be used in the applying process of a professional qualifications certificate (also for youth worker certificates). This is something young people aged 18-26 years old can use as it is targeted mainly at adult education. See Chapters 3.5.and 6.4.
The Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 defines youth work (including hobby education for young people) to have an important role in the development of young people with versatile knowledge, skills and attitudes, incl.
- empowering the youth and creating prerequisites for efficient gaining of independence,
- acquiring work experience, becoming more aware of changes on the labour market,
- empowering young people as the carriers and spokespeople for values.
The national youth strategy declares that youth work allows the young people to enjoy their youth, get to know themselves and others and thereby learn to better navigate the surrounding world. Youth work supports the development of future skills, general competencies and special skills, strengthens social networks and social capital and has a positive effect on behaviour, including the development into an entrepreneurial citizen who shows initiative.
Following this, the recognition of competencies gained through diverse variety of youth work activities available to young people in Estonia, is of utmost important. As the national youth strategy highlights, the talents, interests and creativity of young people must be consistently encouraged, considering the knowledge, skills and experience acquired in non-formal studies within their formal studies as well as the labour market.